Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, May 20, 2002

Waverly council carefully gives OK to group for pursuit of village hall solution

By Lynda Jensen

The Waverly Village Hall once again took the spotlight at both the Waverly City Council meeting Tuesday and the council's work session May 10.

A group of concerned citizens and members of the non-profit Healthy Communities Partnership (HCP) attended Tuesday's meeting, looking for the council's blessing on its pursuit of a long-term solution to the village hall issue.

"Frankly, I was hoping that this would just go away, but I guess it's not going to," Mayor Charlie Bush said.

The issue came to life when HCP conducted a visioning session April 1 to gather input from 175 people in the local area. One of the top five concerns of the group was the village hall.

HCP member Gerry Smith identified key issues, such as the leaking roof and need for handicapped accessibility, as well as future uses for the building, such as using it as a community center, for weddings, and possibly even a theater.

In the past, Bush has expressed strong concerns about the financial impact of restoring the building, which would be costly to the city.

Council member Ken Hausladen has been critical of restoring the building, hinting at its demolition as a preference.

"The village hall has been a concern of the council," Bush said. This is an issue that the current council should handle, before elections occur in the fall and another council inherits the problem," he said.

The city has talked about doing a feasibility study by hiring an architect to look at different solutions, Bush said.

This includes the option of the destruction and replacement of the building with a more usable building, Bush said.

Hausladen echoed this sentiment later in the meeting.

When he alluded to this idea, resident Charlie Borrell, who is also on the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school board, offered comments.

"We've gone through this on the school board as far as with architects and tearing down a building versus building new or adding on," Borrell said.

The idea that it's cheaper to tear down and build something new is false, according to the architect that Borrell met with recently as part of the building and grounds committee, he said.

"(The architect) said that he's never had it once where it was cheaper to tear down and build a new building," he said. "It's a common misconception."

Either way, Bush indicated that he wanted the voters to make the decision about such a large budget item.

"Charlie, why couldn't we let them go ahead and get this part done?" Council member John Hertzog asked Bush.

The building is owned by the city and the city's responsibility, Bush said.

Hertzog said that as long as there is a group willing to explore the possibilities, the council should allow it to pursue the issue, expecting that it will keep the city's interests in mind.

"As long as they are willing to run with it, we should go with that," Hertzog said.

"I disagree," Council member Ken Hausladen said, saying that an independent party outside the city should handle the recommendations.

"What you're looking for, Ken, is what you're actually going to get," Hertzog said. The outcome will be unbiased regardless, he said.

"I'm looking for a less biased opinion," Hausladen said. He said the counting method used by the HCP group was faulty. He also indicated that HCP was slanted towards the idea of restoring the building.

Two residents, Gerry Smith and Angela Lachermeier, pointed out that Hausladen wasn't at the visioning session and appears unable to grasp the number of people that attended.

Lachermeier offered a videotape of the meeting, and invited the council to view the tape, eliminating speculation.

Hausladen asked HCP members if they would be willing to look for an architect as a starting point. However, he emphasized that the group needs to explore the idea of demolition, too.

They agreed.

"The city can't be caught up in something that is preservation at all costs," Bush warned.

"As a committee, please be objective," Bush added.

HCP members agreed. They are to turn in ideas by the July work session.

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